Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band does well at world competition

The Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band from Carson City recently competed in the World Competition of Pipe Bands in Glasgow, Scotland. The event was hosted by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and had more than 250 pipe bands compete in four grades.

Grade 1 is for bands who frequently compete, more professional; grade 2 is for those somewhat less competitive; grade 3 is the occasional competitor and grade 4 the seldom-participating competitor. Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band placed 18th in category 4, which had 68 entries.

"We're ecstatic," said band member Robert Bledsaw in a phone call from Stirling, Scotland. He lives in Carson City but his heritage is Scottish and in just six days he's adopted a heavy Scottish brogue. "This is the superbowl of pipe bands.

"We found out Tuesday (where we placed). One of the members got on the Internet and looked. Just one member of the band had competed here before."

Bledsaw said at the award ceremony, only those bands placing in the top six were announced. The band also competed Sunday in Perth, in a similar competition, where they placed ninth out of 35.

"At least Perth was dry," Bledsaw added. "The world competition had driving rain, wind. We just did it through all the elements. We did a quick tune and were told we had one minute to get ready. We went in and did it."

Eighteen members of the Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band are in Scotland for the competition. Three of them are "on loan" from the Black Bear Pipe Band from Lake Tahoe.

Members are also taking in the sights of Scotland, where most of them have heritage.

"I walked 256 steps to the top of the William Wallace Memorial, and I saw his sword," Bledsaw said. "It's 6-feet tall. As tall as I am."

The band will compete Saturday in Rothesay - a similar competition to the world's but on a smaller scale. Then Sunday in Crieff, about 40 miles north of Stirling.

Bledsaw said with each competition the band is getting better.

"We're going up against the best the world has to offer," he said. "We've competed against pipe bands from Pakistan, the Royal Omani Pipe Band from Oman, bands from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. It's wild.

"The experience has been fantastic. It is a total culture change. Getting back to our roots has been an experience. We're having an absolute blast."

n Contact reporter Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.


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